Tips for a successful Open House
Consult with your client
When you want to get a property sold fast and for top dollar you have to get some some items addressed right up front. When you first take the listing start the process by playing the role of the consultant. Remember the client has retained your services as an expert, they are expecting you to tell them what will work best for them to be successful.
Walk the property with your client and address items that stick out, especially items that a buyer may find as an issue. Agents who take this approach, often times will work this in along with conducting their AVID (Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure). This will help prepare the client for future conversations on how to get the property visually ready for a buyer, including hosting open houses and potentially even getting the conversation prepared for post inspection repairs.
Prep the Property for an Open House!!!!!
Get the properties exterior ready to show. Get the yard groomed, trim the hedges, mow the lawn and pull the weeds. Take the kids toys out of they driveway. Put away the wading pools. Freshen up exterior paint if needed.
Work with your sellers to get the property ready for an open house. Remember decorative taste is subjective, beauty is in the eye of the beholder however, there are certain things we as human beings come to expect from an open house event. When a potential buyer hears that they are going to love a particular property they immediately envision their ideal property scenario. Most people are expecting somthing that looks staged like a new track home or hotel lobby, especially if they have no refrence for basing their expectations.
Getting the property prepared usually means having some tough conversations with the home owner. Remember the idea is to create an environment that is appealing to the largest number of people. Properties that have lots of "Knick Knacs" "Curios" or "keep sake's" can appear to a potential buyer as being cluttered, or make the property feel "tight". The best thing to do is work to have an open dialogue to "de-clutter" your sellers are going to be moving soon anyways, so this is a good time to pack these items up, thin out and get this decor over to storage.
Stage the property
If your working with a property that is owner occupied or has tenants, you may be working with a property that is already furnished to taste. However if your working with a vacant property, you may have the opportunity to stage the property. Many local furniture stores will offer this service, sometimes for a rental fee or possibly they may be looking to offer the furniture for sale along with the property. Statistics from a 2017 Study from the National Association or Realtors found the following regarding staging:
Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
Staging the living room for buyers was found to be most important (55 percent)
Staging the master bedroom (51 percent)
Staging the kitchen (41 percent).
Thirty-eight percent of sellers’ agents said they stage all sellers’ homes prior to listing them for sale.
The most common rooms that are staged include the living room (83 percent), kitchen (76 percent), master bedroom (69 percent), and the dining room (66 percent).
For more information regarding NAR (National Association of Realtors) statistics on home staging click here
House Hold Odors
Real Estate Professionals need to be smart about how this is addressed. Odors in the house can be symptoms of larger problems, Sellers are usually blind to the way their house smells, and of course No one wants to let them know of fear of upsetting them.
In 2016 an appellate court awarded damages to a buyer, because the agent dismissed foul odors as just being sea air. Read the full decision: Fong v. Sheridan, No. A144286, 2016 WL 1626221 (Cal. Ct. App. Apr. 21, 2016)
The message here is do the pre-work! The truth is, everyone's house has a smell to it. If your clients have pets, your going to most likely be battling pet odors, which is fairly common but can be offensive to potential buyers.
The goal is to start addressing these concerns up front and be sure that you disclose any and all information that may be causing odors. Sometimes you can clean up and deodorize especially if odors are related to cooking or kitchen smells, other times, in more extreme circumstances you may need to look at a plan to address areas that have been damaged. It's very likely that if odors are symptomatic of being part of a larger problem, that a home inspector will likely be giving recommendations for a potential buyer to do a further analysis as part of the buyers due diligence.
Get the word out to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. With any successful marketing messaging takes time, so allow yourself ample time to get the word out that your hosting an event that might be of interest to them.
Its best to take a multi pronged approach if your going to garner attention from the greatest number of interested buyers.
With any good messaging include - Who, What, When, Where and How
Leverage your social media - Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, or other social services
Pre-Market the property - tell them whats coming and when post about the property
Create event invites with popular e-mail tools
Use your personal website or blog to help drive traffic to advertisement resources
Tap your sphere of influence, your contacts, friend lists and past clients
Make sure you have added the open house dates into your local MLS
Syndicate your listing and open house data
Send marketing materials to the local community, let the neighbors know that they are welcome to come by and check it out
Open House Signage
Signage is an important part of any open house. Don't be lazy, 20 open house signs in the front yard does nothing to drive traffic to the property for people who are not seeing your announcements online. Your online presence is going to likely target your sphere or or social following or even your direct e-mail contacts. One of your primary goals is to expand your contacts list, build your list of potential buyers and grow your business. You want to be sure that you have enough signs to drive vehicle or foot traffic from the busiest most populated intersections into your open house. Place at least 10 or more street signs that effectively points a car load of buyers into the neighborhood where your hosting an open house.
What if I'm not the only open house in the area?
Well this might be the case....If your competing against other properties for sale in the area, you might find that other agents are potentially driving traffic from the same busy intersections. Don't be the guy/gal who stacks your sign right in front of your competition. I'm only saying, because I have seen this behavior in certain markets and I find it disgusting. Instead of trying to smash your colleague who may be bringing you a buyer at some point in the future, find a place where you can advertise effectively near or next to a competitors sign. Remember, the buyer driving around looking for open houses doesn't care about your open house, they care about finding their next home, so if your seen covering up signs, that might just be a turn off that will get grass roots support.
Take a tour of the competition
Go to your competitors open houses, take a look at the other properties being offered in the area. Introduce yourself, you might be surprised that you have a new ally in the business that is looking to accomplish the same goal. Remember that even if a competing agent is not in house, you can still do a lot of business together. I have found that over the years, I have made many friends with other brokerages, the more comfortable other agents are working with you the more likely your going to have outside agents want to show your listing!
Most "Real Estate Service Providers" will have free "Open House Registries" take advantage of these. Take notes, let the potential buyers know that your collecting information so that you can let the seller know how many people visited the open house. This is a good way to start a conversation, collect some info and find out if they are already working with an agent. If you have a potential buyer that has come by with out and agent, ask them for the agents information and note it in the registry, this will keep you tuned in, should an agent call you later to submit an offer, now you can put a face with the name.
Throw some cookies in the oven!!!
No Seriously....Throw some cookies in the oven. Your going to want to have some snacks for your clients and show that your a gracious host, just pick up some run of the mill pre-fabed cookie roles. Don't turn it into a major production or make a mess in the kitchen. Something that packs easy and is mess free. Use your own cookie sheets. The smell of warm fresh baked cookies is inviting and hopefully you will be creating a hospitable environment for potential buyers to stick around and chat with you. Take the opportunity to listen to their goals, dreams and aspirations. I've certainly picked up new buyers and sellers at an open house this way. It will do wonders for your reputation and those in search for a real estate professional are going to see this as being the kind of person that they want to represent them.
No go out and knock it out of the park!!!! I wish you the best on your open house, and who knows....you might be me meeting me checking out the competition!
NAR NAtional Association of Realtors
Profile of home staging (2017 Home Staging Statistics)